I read this article a while back. It was a really successful guy talking about his success in business. He said that before you worry about five year plans, investing, growing capital or studying business – try making your bed every morning. Weird I know, but he went on to say that busy people can fall into the trap of only doing things because others were expecting it of them. If you make your bed every day, he said, your day starts with doing something no-one is expecting of you, and no-one will even know you’ve done. I don’t know about you, but at first I was thinking, ‘that’s not even a thing for me’. After some thought though, it dawned on me that he had a point.
I moved out of home this year. I live in a little flat by myself. Up until I moved out of home, I only cleaned my room if one of my parents noticed how messy it was. They’d tell me to have respect for my space, along with some other stern words, and wallowing in self-pity I’d clean up. When I moved out of home, that new-flat excitement pushed me to keep my place clean. After a few months though, that will to clean crumbled away and cleaning became merely something that was expected of me. My house began to grow very messy. Dishes were piled up in and around the sink, clothes all over the place, and let’s just say, the place needed a serious vacuum. Working full-time meant apart from weekends, the motivation to clean was nowhere to be found. I stopped inviting people over, afraid that they’d think I was gross because of the environment I lived in. I removed any chance of feeling expected to clean-up, and because of that, I didn’t expect myself to clean up. No-one will see it, I thought to myself, so it’s all good.
This kind of mindset can be seen throughout my life, and I’m sure many of yours a swell. I got up at eight am every morning purely because I was expected at work by nine. I didn’t want to get up all of the time, I just had to. I got work done at the office motivated purely by my boss’s expectation of its completion. I didn’t really mind if it got done or not. This motivation to do things and complete tasks, purely because it was expected of me, applied not only to my house and work, but also to my faith life. It’s so easy to slip into a mindset of praying and going to Mass out of the fact that it’s expected of me, not because I deeply desire to foster a personal relationship with God. I’m no psychologist, I can’t tell you why this mindset of basing actions out of outside expectation as opposed to personal expectation is so easy to slip into. I just know it really sucks.
So, I cleaned my flat. It was so great. I didn’t do it because people were coming over; I did it because I wanted to respect my environment. I wanted to put an expectation on myself for once. I can see the fruits of taking that big step (it took three days to sort through the mess, no joke), slowly seeping into the rest of my life. It doesn’t even change what I do, it just changes why I do it. And I know it can be the same with you. My hope is that you too stop and realise what in your life you are doing purely because others are expecting it from you – and then change that. Expect more of yourself, make tasks set by others your personal goals. Be proud when you get up half an hour early just to go for a morning walk, be proud when you finish an assignment – not just relieved your tutor is off your back. If you struggle with that, maybe take the example of that business guy, and just start by making your bed every morning.
Liam has a passion for all things visual, aural and tactile. As a regional assistant for Marist Youth Ministry, his role involves real-world youth ministry as well as graphic design, videography and web-stuff. Finding a home in the Church has pushed him to move other young people into a place where they can encounter Jesus Christ, and find a home in the Church as well. When he's not making a sweet multimedia, he enjoys bush-walking, swimming and all manner of nature related activities. He also digs good mobster films, bad kung-fu movies and kind-of-all-right westerns.